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‘Making Black America: Through the Grapevine’ Shifts the Cultural Lens

‘Making Black America: Through the Grapevine’ Shifts the Cultural Lens

PBS’ newest series shifts the lens to truly examine the Black American experience through cultural and social spaces. Led by renowned literary professor, historian, and filmmaker, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the four-part series is told through interviews with experts, scholars and academics including Angela Davis, Charles M. Blow, André Holland, Fab 5 Freddie, Jason King, Killer Mike and many more. 

Making Black America: Through the Grapevine premieres on Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at 9 p.m. EDT on PBS and will truly shine a light on “the world behind the color line.”

‘Through the Grapevine’

Making Black America examines the physical social networks and cultural connections for and between Black Americans throughout U.S. history. Exploring Historically Black Colleges and Universities, all-Black towns, secret societies and even Black Twitter, Gates meets with friends and colleagues to discuss these topics and more. Each episode offers a different topic and take.

Episode 1 – Building Black America – Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. EDT

As early as 1775, free Black people in the North and South built towns, established schools, and held conventions ─ creating robust networks to address the political, economic, and social needs of the entire Black community.

Episode 2 – October 11 at 9 p.m. EDT

With the hopes of a multi-racial community dashed, African Americans turn within, creating a community that not only sustains but empowers. From HBCUs to Black businesses to the Harlem Renaissance to political organizations, Black life flourished.

Episode 3 – October 18 at 9 p.m. EDT

To survive a period of economic cataclysm and global war, African Americans relied on informal economies, grassroots organizations and cultural innovations behind the color line to sustain themselves and dismantle the oppressive realities of Jim Crow.

Episode 4 – October 25 at 9 p.m. EDT

Despite the gains of legal desegregation, all Black political and cultural movements – from Black Power to Black Twitter – continued to provide a safe space for a community riven by class, sexuality and generational divisions to debate, organize and celebrate.

About Dr. Gates

The award-winning historian, author, filmmaker and scholar has a prolific bibliography and filmography spanning several decades. As a prominent voice and storyteller of Black history and culture, Dr. Gates has brought history and anthropology into a modern era with shows like PBS’ Finding Your Roots and web series, Black History in Two Minutes (Or So). Before Making Black America: Through the Grapevine, Dr. Gates worked with the series’ directors Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris on the 2021 documentary series, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song.

“For centuries, ‘the Grapevine’ has connected Black Americans in formal and informal networks not just as a way of communicating but of building and sustaining communities large and small,” said Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “From churches to fraternal and sororal organizations to Black Twitter, this is the story of the making of Black America and how, in the making, a people did more than survive the onslaught of enslavement and segregation.”

Further Viewing

Following the premiere of Making Black America: Through the Grapevine, two other important films chronically impactful freedom fighters will air on PBS. These must-watch documentaries examine history in a narrative fashion that truly tells these influential figures’ stories. Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom  airs on October 4 and Becoming Frederick Douglass on October 11. Read more about these two films before digging in.

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